Small businesses win big at the 2022 Dora Awards

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Toronto’s smaller performing arts companies made big gains at the 2022 Dora Awards, their first in-person ceremony in more than three years.

The world premiere of Tapestry Opera’s sci-fi opera RU RA Torrent of Light won six awards, nearly sweeping Dora’s opera department. “Sweeney Todd,” Free Theatre’s immersive production of “Talk,” and “Italian Mime Suicide” by avant-garde Bad New Days, each won five awards in the musical theater and independent theater categories.

Resilience, it seems, was the overarching theme at Monday night’s awards ceremony at the Elgin Theatre, hosted by award-winning actor-director Sabryn Rock. It was a hilarious affair as the arts community gathered to celebrate an industry that has only been recovering for almost two years from the pandemic, which is shutting down most theaters.

Last year’s ceremony was canceled due to the pandemic and the 2020 iteration was entirely virtual. This year’s awards ceremony has been pushed back to September – the ceremony normally takes place every June – to accommodate an extended window for eligible productions due to the gradual return to in-person performances.

Around 100 productions were eligible for the 46 Dora Awards, which recognize excellence in professional theatre, dance and opera.

Monday night’s other winners include “Wildfire,” a dark comedy by Governor General Award-winning playwright David Paquet. The Factory Theater production, translated into English by Leanna Brodie and directed by Soheil Parsa, received three Dora Awards in the General Theater Division, including Outstanding Production, Outstanding New Play and Outstanding Direction for Parsa.

Mirvish Productions’ Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which won both the Tony Award and the Olivier Award for Best Play, was largely disqualified despite receiving eight nominations in the General Theater Division. Lighting designer Neil Austin received the only award for the production.

The jukebox musical ‘& Juliet’, which played at Mirvish’s Princess of Wales Theater over the summer before opening on Broadway this autumn, turned two of its eight nominations into wins and received the Awards for Outstanding Musical Direction (Dominic Fallacaro) and Excellence in Design (Soutra Gilmour).

However, the coveted award for Outstanding New Musical went to Dixon Road, Fatuma Adar’s semi-autobiographical work about a Somali family who settled in Toronto after the outbreak of the Somali Civil War. The musical, which performed at High Park’s Amphitheater this summer, was co-produced by the Musical Stage Company, the Obsidian Theater Company and Canadian Stage.

The best actor awards in the musical category went to two “Sweeney Todd” actors. Glynis Ranney received the Outstanding Performance in a Leading Role award for her role as the eccentric Cockney baker Mrs. Lovett. Her co-star Cyrus Lane received the Outstanding Performance in a Leading Role trophy for his portrayal of the evil judge Turpin.

Alexis Gordon’s masterful performance in Room, a stage adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s novel of the same name, was recognized by the General Theater Division. In the Leading Role category, Sheldon Elter was recognized for his aching performance in the Soulpepper/Native Earth Performing Arts co-production Where the Blood Mixes.

In the dance department, acclaimed Canadian street dancer and choreographer Crazy Smooth’s “In My Body” received four awards including Outstanding Production. Smooth himself won the Outstanding Choreography award for the new work, which assembled a multi-generational troupe of dancers to explore “the evolution of the self and the impact of aging on street dancers.”

The full list of all Dora winners can be found here here.

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